Date of Graduation
Significant research literature supports the view that a couple's ability to resolve conflicts has a large impact on the stability of the relationship and the satisfaction of the members of the couple. Few studies have been conducted, however, to determine the relationships among the intrapersonal and interpersonal variables that affect the dynamics of conflict, in long-term couples. Consequently, this study explores the impact of the affective, cognitive, and behavioral correlates that accompany the internal working model, as described by attachment theory. Special attention has been given to the employment of defense mechanisms, style of conflict management, and defense-provoking behaviors. Participants in this study included five lesbian adult couples who have been in committed romantic relationships for at least six years. A phenomenological approach was used, rendering this study largely qualitative. Methodological process included the use of two unstructured interviews with each participant. The first interview was conducted with the participant only, while the second was conducted with the couple. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using many of the methodological steps described in Hycner's model for qualitative research. In addition to the interviews, convergent validity of the primary constructs was examined utilizing three measures: These instruments included the Dyadic Adjustment Scale; the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument; and the Defense Mechanism Inventory. As revealed by the data collection and analysis, there is strong indication that attachment style predicts many of the dynamics between members of a couple. Such variables include ego defense, conflict management style, defense-provoking behavior, emotional versus cognitive approach, feeling orientation, interpersonal power, desire for personal space, desire for immediacy in resolution, couple satisfaction, and level of commitment to the relationship.
O'Donnell, Gloria Jean, "An exploration of the effect of attachment style on the conflict dynamics of the long-term couple." (1997). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9522.